Equip Yourself For The Journey Ahead

Is someone you love struggling with a serious mental illness? Family-to-Family is a free program to help you develop coping and problem-solving abilities to thrive in the midst of mental illness. Taught by trained facilitators who have real-life experience, the course includes presentations, extensive discussion, and interactive exercises to foster skills to help you understand, survive, and plan a future for yourself and your loved one.

Our Next In-Person & Online Classes

October 2024

Need Help Right Now?

Join a Support Group

Two Options For You:

Nanaimo In-Person Class: Starting late September 2024

Online via Zoom: Starting late September 2024

You Need Skills

Family-to-Family will teach you how to manage crisis, solve problems while communicating effectively. To care for others, you need to take care of yourself and manage your own stress. You will develop the confidence and stamina to support with compassion. Through this course, you will discover how mental illness affects the entire family, and help realize a better future for everyone.

Find Local Support and Services

Family-to-Family is specifically adapted to your local community. Throughout the course, you’ll learn about the local support organizations and services available to you. Through discussion and conversation, you will learn how to utilize them effectively and advocate for your loved one.

Learning the Language

Entering into the mental health world can be overwhelming. Foreign terminology and lingo is commonplace, before you even begin to try to decipher the medications. Family-to-Family will give you the tools to understand mental health conditions, treatments, medications & side-effects, and evidence-based therapies.

Individuals Equipped

Courses Offered

What Will You Learn?

Family-to-Family is a free 8-week education program developed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness and adapted specifically for Canadians. It is a designated evidence-based program, with research demonstrating that participants have significantly improved coping and problem-solving abilities.

The course is taught by trained family members with lived experience. It includes presentations, discussion times, and interactive exercises.

Week 1: Introduction

The first week is all about getting to know one another and the first reactions to mental illness.

What is Family-to-Family? Who are the other people in the class with you?

We’ll also cover the realities of discrimination, stigma, and bias towards mental illness. These realities impact the entire family, and facing this new reality has predictable emotional responses.

Week 2: Understanding Mental Health and Preparing for Crisis

We want to equip you with current, medical information around mental illness. There are positive and negative symptoms as well as genetics and inherited risks. We cover the physiology of the brain, environmental factors, self-harm and suicide. In addition, you will learn how to prepare for and respond to crises.

Week 3: Getting a Mental Health Diagnosis

One of the most difficult realities for family members is simply getting a mental health diagnosis from care providers. We walk through both public and private health care services available, and common challenges when seeking a diagnosis.

This week equips you with tools to get a diagnosis, understand that diagnosis, how to advocate for care, and false beliefs about mental health conditions and violence. This is also a week where the participants have an opportunity to share their stories.

Week 4: Mental Health Conditions

Entering into the world of Mental Health can be overwhelming. There is a significant amount of terms, diagnosis, and expressions of mental health to learn.

This week, we will talk more specifically about health care, helping you to understand cultural sensitivity in health care and holistic care. We also help unpack the difference between an episode and a disorder.

You will learn about depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, psychotic episodes and first episode psychosis, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), borderline personality disorder, and the existence of anosognosia (lack of insight). We also unpack the reality of mental health conditions and substance use disorders.

Week 5: Treatment Options

What options are available for your loved one? We work through how to navigate the various systems, approaches to care, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). You will be equipped to understand how collaborative care works towards healing.

We will cover treatment options, settings, psychotherapeutic interventions, treatment providers, medication, hospitalization and assisted outpatient treatment (AOT), biomedical and complementary health approaches. Finally, you will learn what signs of relapse to be aware of.

Week 6: Communication Skills and Problem Solving

When crisis strikes, communication becomes incredibly important. It is often the first pieces that breaks down, as stress levels rise, but you can equip yourself with the tools to stay cool in times of extreme stress and move towards a solution.

We equip you with communication skills and guidelines with your loved one. We teach you to recognize your own communication patterns and how to use “I” statements for greater collaboration. You will also learn how to use reflective responses and gain problem-solving skills, Lastly, you will learn how to utilize collaborative and proactive solutions (CPS).

Week 7: Empathy and Recovery

Mental Illness is often hard to understand because it is difficult to observe. Week 7 covers the psychological impact of mental health conditions as well as the psychological pain associated with any serious illness. We teach you how to protect self-esteem with defensive coping strategies and give you guidelines for offering empathy.

Then, we move towards recovery with your loved one including an overview of historical ideas of recovery, a definition, and the role of rehabilitation in mental health recovery. Today, there have been steps taken towards new, innovative approaches in rehabilitation and  supportive employment. We hear from a guest speakers and learn that recovery is different for every individual.

Week 8: Moving Forward

You have a life that needs to be lived, even though you might feel hampered by the reality of this mental illness in your loved one. We explore the challenges of mental illness as well as family roles and perspectives. It is completely normal to feel difficult emotions and we teach you how to talk about them.

Most importantly, we give you tangible tools on how to take care of yourself today and into the future.


Do you have more questions?

We’re here to connect, resource, equip, and support you. We would love to hear more about your story and how we can come alongside you to help you through this season of life.